Three talking points from Barcelona 1-0 Real Sociedad | Copa del Rey
On Wednesday night, Barcelona got the better of Real Sociedad in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, in a game that maintained its nail-biting action until the very end.
The tight game was decided in the end by a second-half strike by Ousmane Dembele as the Frenchman enjoyed one of his best games in the garnet-and-blue colours.
He was not alone in leading Barcelona’s march to the semi-finals, with Marc Andre ter Stegen, the entire defence and Sergio Busquets dropping masterclasses in their own right.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points from the Catalans’ victory over the Basque side on Wednesday night.
1. Twin factors – Brais Mendes and Ousmane Dembele
Two players stood tall in Barcelona’s win on Wednesday night and helped them secure a semifinal berth in the Copa del Rey, one from each team.
In a game that seemed even and open, the first inequality emerged when Real Sociedad’s Brais Mendez leapt into an impulsive challenge on Sergio Busquets.
The clock read 40 minutes and the game was evenly poised when the Spaniard went into the book with the smaller sanction. He clearly stood on Busquets’ ankle after jumping into a hasty late challenge, prompting the referee to consult with VAR.
Upon reviewing the incident, the decision was a no-brainer. Gil Manzano pulled the red card out of his pocket and gave Mendes his marching orders. The one-man advantage there on gave the Catalans an advantage. Needless to say, it was that numerical advantage that played a crucial role in the result.
The second, and perhaps the biggest factor on the night, was Ousmane Dembele. The French winger has always had Xavi Hernandez’s backing as one of the best in the business, and on Wednesday, showed the world exactly why.
Every time the Catalans went on the front foot, it was Dembele who sparked the defence-breaking move. He oozed class in every touch in what was a performance for the ages. Truth be told, he deserved the standing ovation at Spotify Camp Nou and a whole lot more.
In 84 minutes on the field, the winger had three shots including two on target. He completed a whopping five dribbles against the Basque opposition, made three key passes and created two big chances.
Most importantly, the winger scored the winning goal on the night. Receiving the ball from Jules Kounde’s curling pass, the Frenchman took a touch, a swivel and a low shot to beat Alex Remiro.
2. A lucky 90-minute finish
Despite having a man extra on the field, Barcelona had to trod through neck-deep water to secure the win last night.
In terms of possession, Xavi’s men dominated La Real. They recorded 74% of the possession and had most of the initiative at Camp Nou. The Blaugrana recorded a total of 19 shots on the night, with six on target and five blocked. Remiro was forced into four saves, and the team took 15 shots from inside the Sociedad box.
However, the visitors were not far off from scoring despite being down a man. In fact, it was Sociedad that had three big chances at Camp Nou as opposed to Barcelona’s two. They even hit the woodwork once in the first half with Takefusa Kubo’s well-worked effort.
Barcelona need to work on maintaining control of the game, for slacking off and giving opposition inroads is becoming a common occurrence in their performances. Regardless, no team is free from flaws and as it stands, Barcelona’s positives far outweigh the negatives.
3. Within touching distance
Three games. That is all that separates Barcelona from their next trophy of the season, one that would stand proud in the cabinet next to the Supercopa de Espana.
A lot was said about Xavi’s inability to manage a club of Barcelona’s stature. Yet, it is perplexing how the Blaugrana sit so comfortably on top of the league standings with one of their best starts in recent history.
A domestic treble is no longer a distant dream. Barcelona are the favourite in both competitions remaining, and the Copa del Rey trophy could well be the next one in the line.
Barcelona’s revival is well and truly on track. There could not be better days to live as a fan of the Catalans.